…..who gave legal advice to fire Central Bank Governor?
A Port-of-Spain based attorney has gone to the High Court seeking orders against the Minister of Finance, the Cabinet, and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) for answers under the Freedom of Information Act.
Darryl Heeralal filed an application for judicial review in the Port-of-Spain High Court on Thursday afternoon. He will be represented at the hearing by attorney Gerald Ramdeen.
In one application, Heeralal said he applied under the Freedom of Information Act, to the Cabinet on December 30, 2015, seeking the following information:
The names of all the Attorneys-at-aw and/or Barrister-at-Law, both local and foreign who provided advice to the Minister of Finance and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago with respect to the removal and/or dismissal of the Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Mr. Jwala Rambarran;
The date/s when the advice was sought and the date/s when the advice was received; and
The fees paid to each Attorney-at-Law and/or Barrister-at-Law.
He said by letter dated the 30th day of December, 2015 he wrote to the Secretary to the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago.
Heeralal pointed out that by letter dated the 8th day of January 2016, the Secretary to the Cabinet, acknowledged receipt of his application form and letter. By a further letter dated the 21st day of January 2016, he said the Secretary to the Cabinet, wrote to him and advised that with regards to : (a) the names of all the Attorneys-at-Law and/or Barrister-at-Law, both local and foreign who provided advice to the Minister of Finance and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago with respect to the removal and/or dismissal of the Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago Mr. Jwala Rambarran and (b) the date/s when the advice was sought and the date/s when the advice was received these documents were exempted under section 24 of the FOIA and with regards to (c) The fees paid to each Attorney-at-Law and/or Barrister-at-Law, that there was no record in the Cabinet Secretariat, Office of the Prime Minister.
“I am a citizen of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and a taxpayer. I am concerned with the state of the economy and the management of state resources namely, the Treasury and financial accountability for tax-payer’s monies.
This concern is even more prominent with the public controversy surrounding the removal of the former Central Bank Governor Mr. Jwala Rambarran in 2015. This matter was widely publicized and raised a number of issues of public interest namely, the present economic crisis facing our country.
“I am aware that the People’s National Movement during its political campaign 2015 had expressed its renewed commitment to the elimination of all forms of corruption by ensuring greater transparency, openness and accountability especially in relation to the retention of external Counsel as well as the disbursement of legal fees to such individuals and/or entities for the provision of legal services.”
A similar request was made to the Ministry of Finance, through the Minister of Finance Colm Imbert. However, in this case, Heeralal said he has not had the benefit of an acknowledgement.
Rambaran’s appointment was revoked by acting President Christine Kangaloo in December 2015.
In the third matter, Heeralal said he had applied to the Tobago House of Assembly for the information with respect to the persons who have been retained by the Tobago House of Assembly for the provision of legal services during the last five years. His application for information under the Freedom of Information Act Chapter 22:02 on was dated the 7th day of January 2016.
There has been no response from the THA to the letter.